With Mr Elephanter, Lark Pien has written and illustrated one of the sweetest, gentlest (in both writing tone and color palette) books I have read in a while. Like Polly Dunbar's gently colorful books for the under four crowd, Pien's book celebrates the joys of being little. As Pien says in the jacket flap, "Whether you are taller than a tree or small enough to fit in the palm of a hand - or any size in between - you have the capacity to care." This ethos is evidenced in every single page of Mr Elephanter. Mr Elephanter arrives with a smile every morning at the Elephantery to "look after the young and peppy elephanties. With tootles and trumpet, they greet Mr Elephanter at the door. There are hugs and hellos all around."
Mr Elephanter makes his three adorable charges a batch of banana pancakes. After eating they head out to the pool to "paddle and splash and show off their tricks." There is an interesting assortment of animals and humans in every picture. I especially like the giraffes doing tai-chi. Mr Elephanter rinses an (tries) to dry off the elephanties, who gleefully run away saying, "fwee!" and are VERY reminiscent of many a post-bath toddler who likes to dry off by running naked through the house.
There is a visit to the park where Mr Elephanter runs into an old friend, a grown elephant who was in Mr Elephanter's care as a little elephantie. The two talk for a long time and the effects of Mr Elephanter's love and care are obvious. The elephanties return to the Elephantery for a nap and, when they misbehave, a time out. They play some games, do some dances and have more fun until the sun sets and it is time for Mr Elephanter to go home. With hugs and good-byes, the little elephanties watch Mr Elephanter as he heads for home "under the starry sky."